Since Viswanathan Anand won the first two competitions in 2000 and 2002, no Indian has taken home a medal at the FIDE World Cup. In the 2023 tournament’s quarterfinal, there are four Indians, and at least one of them will advance to the semifinal. While Ian Nepomniachtchi, a two-time World Championship finalist from Russia, started as the favourite, Vidit Gujrathi, who tended to follow in the footsteps of his star-studded teenage compatriots, proved that he too could compete at the highest level by pulling off a stunning 4-2 victory to secure the final quarterfinal spot in Baku on Monday.
3 things you need to know
- Vidit Gujrathi defeats two-time Chess World Championship contender Ian Nepomniachtchi
- The star from Nashik, India, secured the quarterfinal spot in FIDE Chess World Cup
- 4 Indians made it to the quarterfinal stage
Vidit Gujarathi reaches quarterfinal of Chess World Cup after beating Ian Nepomniachtchi
Vidit completed the historic Indian quartet, which also included Gukesh D, Arjun Erigaisi, and R. Praggnanandhaa, making it the first time four Indians have reached the tournament’s quarterfinal. However, Harika Dronavalli’s loss to the strongest Russian in the women’s class brought an end to India’s participation in the FIDE Women’s World Cup. After the final Indian challenger rallied to make it 2-2, second seed Aleksandra Goryachkina defeated Harika 4.5-3.5 by winning the penultimate five-minute blitz game.
After holding Nepomniachtchi over the course of the previous two days’ two games in classical time control, Vidit displayed parity in the two rapid games of 25 minutes before directing an absolutely breathtaking finish. Vidit was behind the Russian with 10 minutes remaining in the first game. Nepomniachtchi made a mistake on his 37th move, and Vidit took advantage of the opportunity despite the pressure. Vidit constantly chose the appropriate continuation over the last 60 minutes of this thriller.
Nepomniachtchi conceded because his rook was trapped behind Vidit’s moving piece and his king was nearly out of the game. Surprisingly, Vidit had 49 seconds left but Nepomniachtchi had 5.01 minutes.
“I was really hoping that I would do well. And if I look at the games, I feel like I have been playing very good chess so it’s not just by chance. But of course, sometimes you also need some games to go your way,” he said after the match.